Senate set to vote on bill protecting same-sex marriages

Nov 28, 2022, 6:54 PM | Updated: Nov 29, 2022, 8:30 am
FILE - Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, speaks with members of the press Nov. 16, 2022, on Capitol Hill in...

FILE - Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, speaks with members of the press Nov. 16, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Senate is set to vote Nov. 29 on legislation to protect same-sex and interracial marriages, putting Congress one step closer to ensuring that such unions are enshrined in federal law. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate is set to vote Tuesday on legislation to protect same-sex and interracial marriages, putting Congress one step closer to passing the landmark bill and ensuring that such unions are enshrined in federal law.

Senate Democrats are moving quickly, while the party still holds the majority in both chambers of Congress, to pass the bill requiring that such unions are legally recognized nationwide. The House would still have to vote on the legislation and send it to President Joe Biden’s desk.

The bill has gained steady momentum since the Supreme Court’s June decision that overturned the federal right to an abortion, and comments from Justice Clarence Thomas at the time that suggested same-sex marriage could also come under threat. Bipartisan Senate negotiations kick-started this summer after 47 Republicans unexpectedly voted for a House bill and gave supporters new optimism.

The legislation would not codify the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision that legalized gay marriage nationwide or force any state to allow same-sex couples to marry. But it would require states to recognize all marriages that were legal where they were performed, and protect current same-sex unions. It would also protect interracial marriages by requiring states to recognize legal marriages regardless of “sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin.”

“The rights of all married couples will never truly be safe without the proper protections under federal law, and that’s why the Respect for Marriage Act is necessary,” Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the Senate floor ahead of a test vote Monday.

Passage of the legislation would be a major victory for Democrats as they usher out their two years of consolidated power in Washington, and a massive win for advocates who have been pushing for decades for federal legislation legalizing same sex marriages.

Schumer said it is notable that the Senate is even having the debate. “A decade ago, it would have strained all of our imaginations to envision both sides talking about protecting the rights of same-sex married couples,” he said.

A test vote Monday evening moved the legislation closer to passage, with 12 Republicans who have previously supported the bill voting again to move it forward. Democrats set up a Tuesday afternoon vote after Republicans negotiated votes on three GOP amendments that would protect the rights of religious institutions and others to still oppose such marriages.

Supporters of the legislation say those amendments are unnecessary because they are already amending the bill to clarify that it does not affect rights of private individuals or businesses that are currently enshrined in law. That amendment would also make clear that a marriage is between two people, an effort to ward off some far-right criticism that the legislation could endorse polygamy.

Republican Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who has been lobbying his fellow GOP senators to support the legislation for months, points to the number of religious groups who are supporting the bill, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some of those groups were part of negotiations on the bipartisan amendment.

“They see this as a step forward for religious freedom,” Tillis says.

The nearly 17-million member, Utah-based faith said in a statement earlier this month that church doctrine would continue to consider same-sex relationships to be against God’s commandments. Yet it said it would support rights for same-sex couples as long as they didn’t infringe upon religious groups’ right to believe as they choose.

The support of some religious groups reflect the changing public sentiment on the issue — recent polling has found more than two-thirds of the public supports same-sex unions. But Congress has been slower to act.

Most Republicans still oppose the legislation, saying it is unnecessary and citing concerns about religious liberties. And some conservative groups stepped up opposition in recent weeks.

“As I and others have argued for years, marriage is the exclusive, lifelong, conjugal union between one man and one woman, and any departure from that design hurts the indispensable goal of having every child raised in a stable home by the mom and dad who conceived him,” the Heritage Foundation’s Roger Severino, vice president of domestic policy, wrote in a recent blog post arguing against the bill.

In an effort to win the 10 Republican votes necessary to overcome a filibuster in the 50-50 Senate, Democrats delayed consideration until after the midterm elections, hoping that would relieve political pressure on some GOP senators who might be wavering.

The delay appeared to work, and eventual support from twelve Republicans gave Democrats the votes they needed.

Along with Tillis, Maine Sen. Susan Collins and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman supported the bill early on and lobbied their GOP colleagues to support it. Also voting for the legislation in two test votes were Republican Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Todd Young of Indiana, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Mitt Romney of Utah, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming and Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan of Alaska.

The growing GOP support for the issue is a sharp contrast from even a decade ago, when many Republicans vocally opposed same-sex marriages.

Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat who is the first openly gay senator and has been working on gay rights issues for almost four decades, said earlier this month that the newfound openness from many Republicans on the subject reminds her “of the arc of the LBGTQ movement to begin with, in the early days when people weren’t out and people knew gay people by myths and stereotypes.”

Baldwin, the lead Senate negotiator on the legislation, said that as more individuals and families have become visible, hearts and minds have changed.

“And slowly laws have followed,” she said. “It is history.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

TV anchors T.J. Holmes, Amy Robach leave ABC amid romance

NEW YORK (AP) — T.J. Holmes and Amy Robach, anchors at the afternoon extension of ABC’s “Good Morning America,” are leaving the network after their romance was reported in November. The pair were taken off the air and placed on temporary hiatus after photos surfaced of them holding hands and spending time together. Both were […]
12 hours ago
Associated Press

Delaware Gov. John Carney tests positive for COVID-19

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Delaware Gov. John Carney has tested positive for COVID-19, the governor’s office announced on Saturday. Carney tested positive late Friday using an at-home antigen test after experiencing mild symptoms, according to a news release. Carney, 66, said he’s “feeling fine” and is isolating himself — following U.S. Centers for Disease Control […]
12 hours ago
FILE - FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried leaves Manhattan federal court on Jan. 3, 2023, in New York, a...
Associated Press

FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, DOJ tussle over his communications

Federal prosecutors are trying to prohibit FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried from privately contacting current and former employees of the bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange to prevent potential witness tampering in a criminal case accusing him of bilking investors and customers. The request, made in a letter filed late Friday by U.S. Justice Department lawyers, prompted an indignant […]
12 hours ago
Associated Press

Challenge for Tunisian democracy: Getting voters to show up

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — Tunisia was once the Arab world’s hope for a new era of democracy. Now it’s in the midst of an election that’s more of an embarrassment than a model. Barely 11% of voters turned out in the first round of parliamentary elections last month, boycotted by opposition Islamists and ignored by […]
12 hours ago
Associated Press

Philippines probes labor abuses in Kuwait after new killing

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine government said Saturday it will take steps to assess and prevent abuses including rape and maltreatment of Filipino workers in Kuwait, after a housemaid was killed and dumped in a desert in the oil-rich emirate. The remains of Jullebee Ranara were flown home Friday night from Kuwait, where the […]
12 hours ago
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni speaks during a conference in Tripoli, Libya, Saturday, Jan. ...
Associated Press

Italy, Libya sign $8B gas deal as PM Meloni visits Tripoli

CAIRO (AP) — Italy’s prime minister held talks in Libya on Saturday with officials from the country’s west-based government focusing on energy and migration, top issues for Italy and the European Union. During the visit, the two countries’ oil companies signed a gas deal worth $8 billion — the largest single investment in Libya’s energy […]
12 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.
(Pexels Photo)...

Sports gambling can be fun for adults, but it’s a dangerous game for children

While adults may find that sports gambling is a way to enhance the experience with more than just fandom on the line, it can be a dangerous proposition if children get involved in the activity.
...
Fiesta Bowl Foundation

Celebrate 50 years of Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade magic!

Since its first production in the early 1970s, the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe has been a staple of Valley traditions, bringing family fun and excitement to downtown Phoenix.
Senate set to vote on bill protecting same-sex marriages